5 Best Breeds of Beef Cattle

Angus cattle top the list. Who follows?

GR Schiavino

1. Angus

The Angus breed was first imported to Victoria, Kansas, from Scotland in 1873. Since then, it has become the most dominant beef cattle breed in the United States. The American Angus Association reports that 70% of U.S. cow herds are covered by Angus bulls. To qualify as Certified Angus Beef, animals must meet 10 strict requirements, including hide color, marbling, and rib-eye size.

Related: Popular U.S. Cattle Breeds

2. Hereford

Before the Angus, but after the Texas Longhorn (and briefly the Durham), the Hereford was the dominant American beef breed. Originally, it was imported from Herefordshire, England, in 1817. The breed then spread with settlers as they fenced off the American West, and the Hereford became popular for its early maturity and efficiency. Hereford remained the dominant breed through the 1960s and remains influential in many crossbreeding programs.

3. Gelbvieh

The Gelbvieh breed is one of the oldest German cattle breeds. It was first developed around 1850 in three Franconian districts of Bavaria. After World War II, Germany used a stringent selection program to repopulate its cowherd, using conformation, carcass quality, and milk production in the progeny-testing system. The breed, which has approximately 45,000 active, registered Gelbvieh cows, was first imported to the United States in 1971 (when U.S. regulations were passed to allow for importation).

4. Limousin

The Limousin breed is native to the old provinces of Limousin and Marche in central France. French breeders placed a great deal of emphasis on a deep chest, strong topline, well-placed tailhead, and strongly muscled hindquarters. The result was an efficient, hardy, and adaptable animal that is well suited for meat production. Imported to the United States since 1971, the Limousin breed (muscle and efficiency) has been bred with the Angus breed (marbling and maternal traits) to create the popular Lim-Flex hybrid/cross.

Related: From Pasture to Plate

5. Simmental

Developed in the Swiss Canton of Berne, the Simmental was officially established in 1806 and was first imported to the United States in 1971. Among all cattle breeds worldwide, this breed is second in numbers only to Brahman. The American Simmental produces outstanding performance and productivity thanks to expansive within-breed blending.